Tag Archives: Presses de Sciences Po

Ecologie & politique 47 – Today’s political ecology in China

Écologie & politique 47, Les écologies politiques aujourd’hui (5) Chine (2013). Coordination: Jean-Paul Maréchal. Paris: Presse de Sciences Po


After thirty years of the economy growing at almost 10% per year, China is now faced with the challenge of environmental limits. Lakes, streams, the air, the soil are all affected. This degradation has sparked sometimes violent demonstrations from the people concerned, already in the tens of thousands every year. This report discusses how the environmental issue is making its way in the civil society and spheres of government of the Middle Kingdom.

Political Ecology in China [p.17]

Jean-Paul Maréchal

Summary – The purpose of this article is to highlight how three decades of sustained growth have resulted in a massive deterioration of the environment in China. The severity of pollution has lead to social discontent, which threatens the government’s legitimacy. Thus, a number of measures have been taken by the government to address the issue, but, given the scale of the challenge, these cannot yield results in the short term.

The Green Awakening of Chinese Society? [p.27]

Marie-Hélène Schwoob

Abstract – China’s current political transition raises questions about which path should the new leadership take in the process of reshaping relationships between the State and society. This evolution is made necessary by the moving frontiers of roles played by stakeholders, particularly in the field of environmental protection: from limited circles of environmental activism, encouraged as well as controlled by the government since the 1990s, the civil society is today moving towards more independent ways of demonstrating its environmental awareness, as recent events have shown. However, even after the fall of Bo Xilai—which led people to believe in a “victory” of the Guangdong’s liberalist model—vigorous debates opposing claims for reform and resilient conservatism are still taking place in China.

Nature Bursts into Canton. NGOs, State and Global Norms [p.39]

Monique Selim

Abstract – This article seeks to analyze the representations of nature and the practices related to these representations in contemporary China. It is based on an anthropological research conducted in Guangzhou, capital of the Guangdong province, a city rather opened to outside influences due to its proximity with Hong Kong and therefore rather less affected by the control of the party-state than the rest of the country. The author shows how small groups of environmentalists appear, and study the political relations that develop from this new tropism. Between the control of the party-state and the subversive logic that underlie the very idea of nature conservation, a very diverse rank of attitudes and conceptions showing the entrance of China into a global world can be grasped.

Ecology, Confucius and Democracy. A Critical Analysis of Chinese Rhetoric of « Ecological Civilization » [p.51]

Gwennaël Gaffric and Jean-Yves Heurtebise

Abstract – In the last past years, the catch-phrase “ecological civilization” flourished in China and became widely used by both academic and politicians. This article aims at addressing the underlying (philosophical and political) reasons of its growing use. We contend that this notion, based on a culturalist and nationalist interpretation of “traditional Chinese thought” (presented as the very antidote to “Western thought”), plays an instrumental role in China’s discursive strategy of power consisting in using Chinese philosophical textual tradition to support national and international interests. This paper’s goal is to critically analyze this discourse in order to rethink the fundamental relationship between ecopolitics and democracy.

Environmental Justice as Fairness. The Politicization of Environmental Conflicts in the Popular Republic of China [p.63]

Richard Balme

Abstract – This paper explores developments in environmental policy-making in China under the angle of environmental justice. While the extent of environmental damages and their social impacts are relatively well known, the political implications of environmental conflicts are less documented. The paper shows that the developments of legislation, collective action, public participation and litigation, served as converging factors to allow for some significant improvements in environmental policy-making procedures over the last decade. Although these innovation remained local, and far from reversing the general state of the environment in China, they introduced significant changes in the patterns of interaction among relevant policy stakeholders.

China’s Policy Responses to Climate Change [p.77]

Giulia C. Romano

Abstract – In the global warming issue, China now covers the record of the first world polluter. Moreover, by far the country has shown a reticent attitude towards the possibility of engaging in an international accord stipulating concrete targets for emissions reduction. But how could we explain the partial change occurred in Durban, where China finally accepted the EU-proposed “platform?” We try to answer this question by observing the internal context and asking another preliminary question: has China adopted a climate change policy? The answer seems to be positive.

The Challenge for China of Building a New Global Climate Regime [p.89]

Jean-Paul Maréchal

Abstract – This article evaluates China’s contribution to the global warming phenomenon and the role she can be expected to play in the future. It also analyzes Beijing’s attitude in the international negotiations concerning global climate change, in order to understand the difficulties to conceive and implement a “post-Kyoto” climate regime.

China and Green Technologies: A New Kind of Security Dilemma? [p.103]

Emmanuel Meneut

Abstract – The pollution and the high Chinese level of emitted greenhouse gas are a challenge for the Communist Party and the Chinese political regime. The internal challenge is coming from the consequences of pollution on the population and the large discontent it fuels. The external challenge is due to the international stage position of the first greenhouse gas producer and the second GDP of the world economy. This major challenge requires a structural change of the energy production and consumption of the country. As a consequence, China became one of the main actors of the energy transition through its two last five-year plans. The huge investment level in clean tech energy conversion chains is the translation of the Chinese political will. This situation creates tensions with Western countries.

For more information,see the official Écologie & Politique website (French).

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l'UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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